Thousands of supporters of opposition leader and self declared President Juan Guaido demonstrated on the streets of Venezuela Tuesday as part of an ongoing campaign to break the military’s support for President Nicolas Maduro and force the socialist leader from power.
Guaido called for demonstrations to honor 40 people killed in anti-government rallies and to press for emergency food and medicine from the U.S. to be transported into the economically-devastated country.
The supplies are currently warehoused in the Colombian border town of Cucuta. Guaido told military leaders recently Maduro’s refusal to allow the aid into the country was a “crime against humanity.”
Maduro, who continues to enjoy the support of the country’s powerful military, said the opposition rallies are part of a U.S. coup attempt and refuses to allow the emergency supplies to enter the country.
Maduro also called for demonstrations Tuesday, urging supporters to march in downtown Caracas to rally against “imperialist intervention” in Venezuelan affairs and to gather signatures from people who are opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Guaido, the National Assembly leader who surprised the world when he declared himself acting president on January 23, said Maduro’s presidency is “illegitimate” because of flawed elections.
Guaido, who is recognized by some 50 countries as interim president, is trying to oust Maduro from office so he can establish a transitional government and hold new presidential elections.
The South American country is grappling with a severe recession and hyperinflation while millions of citizens are lacking basic necessities.
The United Nations estimates more than 3 million people have fled the country since 2015.